As much as we often joke that Jonah Ryan’s rise to prominence feels like one giant accident, I would argue that there are similarities with Selina Meyer. To be clear, I’m not saying Selina and Jonah are the same, but consider this. For everything thrown at Jonah, he continued to persevere and make his way up the political ladder.
With Selina, who is more competent, she had many obstacles in her path, the biggest one probably being that she actually lost the Presidency two seasons ago. Despite all of that and everything she’s faced this season leading into the finale, she squeaked out a victory and finally managed to win the Presidency. The distinction here being that the people actually voted for her, whereas before she ascended into the position.
But with the aptly named “Veep,” it’s crunch time. There are a lot of parallels here to Season Five’s “Inauguration” in that it feels like a race against time. Selina had to overcome a lot in order to come out victorious and it felt like there could be an 11th hour curveball that would derail her momentum. It wouldn’t be Veep if she didn’t have one blunder, after all.
But Selina is nothing if not clever and crafty. Whether she makes the right decisions is up to you, but right now, as Selina said in the premiere, it’s her time. Damn the consequences, Selina Meyer goes scorched Earth in this series finale. Showrunner David Mandel, who was behind the camera here, took us through Selina’s last hurrah and delivered both a fun and scathing finish to the political series.
There are wacky hijinks aplenty, but there are quieter, more focused moments for reflection. That and we were given plenty of times for Selina to be her usual, ruthless self. This time, though, more than any other moment, the gloves were off because she called the shots.
Throughout the season, Selina had prospered in the face of the Meyer Fund and every other thing nagging at her. She even managed to overtake Kemi Talbot. With all of that, the nomination should’ve been in the bag, but so many X factors prevented that. Like our own political world, you can’t prepare for the unexpected.
But if Selina’s time as Vice President has prepared her for anything, it’s this finish. One by one, she eventually manages to vanquish her foes through her own terms. From the start, she refuses to offer Kemi Talbot the Veep spot merely because others proposed it. This would’ve made the party happy, but Selina is only interested in making herself happy.
So when Selina has Gary fall on the sword, when she offers to kill gay marriage in exchange for Buddy Calhoun’s support, turning Michelle against Tom James, and even offering Jonah the VP slot, she’s being very calculating and methodical in her approach. It’s ruthless, but not out of character at all because we know at this point that Selina isn’t above using others to get her way.
More than that, though, her heart-to-heart talk with Ben helped spur her into action. While Ben and Kent are usually there to help center Selina, she had to call the shots this time. Julia Louis-Dreyfus has always been excellent as Selina Meyer, but Selina felt more methodical here than we’ve ever seen her before.
The best example of this is when she proposes that Jonah be her running mate. The fuck-up who managed to fail upwards. This was the moment that broke Kent of all people, and even got Amy shaking. But Selina knows what it means to suffer, in particular as Vice President. This would be the perfect spot for Jonah. Terrible as it would be, Selina had to make this in order to secure the nomination.
As I watched this finale, I kept waiting for an 11th hour switch. When Jonah initially turned down Selina’s offer, I thought ‘Okay, is this what prevents Selina from becoming President?’ After all, with Jonah’s rhetoric still winning him delegates, he was in a position to bargain. It was one of the few times, I think, when he actually stood up for himself and even shouted back at Uncle Jeff.
I love this little moment because it showed that, for all of Jonah’s many fumbles, even he’s capable of playing political ball. But he’s still no match for Uncle Jeff and Selina combined.
Selina sold her soul and more in order to become President. That she offered to kill gay marriage just for Buddy Calhoun’s endorsement was one thing, but we have to talk about Gary. Poor, innocent Gary who has been there for Selina since day one. Andrew established earlier that Gary could be the fall guy for the Meyer Fund, but there wasn’t much discussion about it.
But now, Selina had to let one more domino fall in order to secure her victory. It’s a slimy, underhanded tactic and major slap in the face to the man who, more than anyone else, has always had Selina’s back. When Gary is hauled off by agents as Selina delivers her acceptance speech, it’s a punch in the gut. Yet, again, this isn’t unlike Selina at all. She wouldn’t hesitate to throw Gary under the bus.
That doesn’t make the moment any less painful, but it just shows that Selina will reach for any new low. She’s a terrible person who we really have no reason to root for, and yet we do because we just can’t look away.
At the end of the day, sure, Selina returns to the Oval Office. But like the Season Three finale, I’d argue that once Selina becomes President, things are even worse. She’s alienated many of her allies. Gary rots away in prison and she doesn’t think to visit him. She’s won what she wanted, but it cost her everything and more just to get there. Now she’s just President, but unhappy.
Sure, Selina has always been unhappy, but there’s always been a spark to her ferocity. When we see her sitting in the Oval Office by her lonesome, though, Selina is left with no one but herself. It’s a tragic, yet fitting ending to such a despicable character.
But the hits don’t even stop there. For all of Selina’s hard work, she only ended up as a one-term President and will probably just be remembered for the Tibet incident and overturning gay marriage. To pour salt in the wound, both Kemi Talbot and Richard managed to serve two full terms, while Selina was, once again, a mere blip on everybody’s radar.
Actually, full stop for a moment. Richard. Sam Richardson came onto the scene in the third season and he seemed like nothing more than just another helping hand for Selina. But his nice demeanor and overall pleasantness made him stick out in a sea of unlikable and deplorable characters. His rise to prominence in politics all but guaranteed he would continue being a rising star in this world.
So the fact that he not only became President, but served two terms and deservingly won a Nobel Prize shows that yes, nice folks can succeed in politics. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.
But let’s use that as a way to talk about Selina’s supporting players. Everyone had a moment to shine in this finale, though the standouts had to be, for my money, Ben, Kent, and Amy. Ben in particular gave Selina the encouragement and words that she needed in order to make her victory a surefire possibility, while Kent and Amy’s freakouts at the prospect of Vice President Jonah Ryan were hilarious to watch.
Also, Mike! Another example of someone whose star continued to rise. When Selina gave him the boot, he quickly bounced back. From his humble days at Buzzfeed, Mike ended up with great success that culminated in him becoming a full-fledged Walter Cronkite. Perhaps Selina was right: people only succeed or do well when they’re not associated with her.
Sticking with Mike, though, let’s talk about that ending. The final knife to the gut that is Selina Meyer’s legacy. No matter what she does, she will always be overshadowed by someone else. In this case, the death of Tom Hanks ends up taking precedence over Selina’s. It’s a fantastic payoff to the pilot episode and fitting end for Selina. She can do a damn good job and someone will still upstage her.
But hey, who better to be overshadowed than by Tom Hanks? That’s one way to take the momentum out of your death. It’s like when Farrah Fawcett’s death ended up being overshadowed by Michael Jackson’s death.
Even though Veep doesn’t operate in the same world as ours does, I did like the real world parallels. North Carolina’s bathroom bill, for example, was a hot button issue and I did like how it was integrated into the episode without becoming the focal point. Plus, it wasn’t just there for show, but used in a way that divided Catherine from Selina for good when Selina proposed killing gay marriage.
It might’ve been the only time we saw Marjorie lose her shit. But as we see in the time skip, Catherine couldn’t have been happier than to drink to her mother’s death.
Oh, and I’d be crazy if I didn’t bring up Sue’s return! This was a surprise and definitely a ‘Hell yes’ moment for me. Even though it was brief and while Sue did pop up in the ‘Previously on’ segment- indicating that she could appear- it was an absolute treat to see her again.
When you consider that we didn’t see or hear from Sue at all last season, it left me wondering if Sufe Bradshaw would ever return to the series. At the same time, story-wise, last season didn’t need Sue since that was about Selina outside of politics. Last we checked, Sue stayed on under Montez’s administration. Luckily, we got to see her one last time doing what she does best: shutting shit down.
Veep is a fascinating take on politics. I’ve said this before, but Veep is like taking our political world and holding it up to a cracked mirror. I maintain that “Inauguration” could have worked as a series finale, but that’s not taking anything away from what we got in “Veep” tonight. For all of Selina’s hard work, scheming, and underhanded tactics, she got what she finally wanted. What matters in the end, though, is whether it was worth it.
Again, Veep was not something I tuned into until right before Season Three premiered, but I am happy that I did because this was a fantastic series. For me, this series never skipped a beat or let up on its comedy. I’d be hard pressed to pick out what I’d consider a bad or even mediocre episode because the quality from start to finish was consistent.
If you’re in the mood for political satire or just a great comedy, Veep is something you should check out. The adventures of Selina Meyer and company have come to a close. For the folks who made this possible, from series creator Armando Iannucci to current showrunner David Mandel and the cast and crew, thank you for creating one of the best, consistently sharp comedies of the past few years.